Review: Russell Stover Sugar Free Bites (Blueberry & Cranberry)

(Disclaimer: I received this product, for free, from BzzAgent, in exchange for my honest review.)

Most people don’t go for sugar-free when they are in the mood for a chocolate treat. I know I don’t! I usually grab a candy bar or small bag of dark chocolate goodness and worry about the sugar & calories later! Because I do not consume sweets on a regular basis, I don’t normally pay much attention to the sugar content. Therefore, I have never opted for sugar-free sweets.

I recently received, for free, some Russell Stover Sugar Free Bites, dark chocolate with blueberry & cranberry flavors. It appears to be their sugar free answer to Brookside Chocolates. Fruit & dark chocolate are a great, delicious combination so I looked forward to seeing what Russell Stover had in store for me! When I have had drinks with sugar free sweeteners, I have always noticed a strange aftertaste. I wondered if these would be the same.

From first glance, I really like the bag. I think the lighter colors actually communicate that it is a ‘lighter’ candy. The green and white look somewhat festive. Opening the bag, I was surprised to see how big these ‘bites’ are! Definitely a good surprise. I tried the blueberry bite and immediately liked it! It was SO delicious! After eating it, I waited for that aftertaste to hit. It was very faint. As I ate more, I tasted more of the aftertaste, leading me to want less. I decided to go ahead and try the cranberry and immediately regretted that. The taste of the Splenda (also known as sucralose) was very strong in those.

With that being said, I have several concerns about this product. I decided to take a look at the ingredients and saw quite a few concerning things. First, the cranberry flavor states that it is partially produced with genetic engineering. That is quite disturbing. Why would a candy need that? This is not listed on the blueberry flavor so I do wonder if it is pertaining to the cranberry source. Additionally, the label on both packages warns that excessive consumption may cause a laxative effect. I believe this is from the maltitol, which is listed in the ingredients twice. Maltitol is a sugar alcohol used as a sugar substitute. “Excessive consumption” is relative so there’s no true way to determine the threshold for a person. Sugar alcohols commonly cause laxative effects. Now, to Russell Stover’s credit, the label does indicate that it contains sugar alcohol which, it says, generally causes only a small rise in blood glucose levels. However, the more I looked at the label, the less I wanted to eat it.

(NOTE: When I did eat it, let’s just say – I had to change my plans for the evening after eating these. Never again will I consume anything with sugar alcohols. My digestive system was wrecked.)

Although the sugar content would be different, I’d much rather grab a well known candy bar or bag of chocolates instead of Russell Stover Sugar Free Bites. While being sugar free is a great thing, the things mentioned highly outweigh this fact. I’d rather have pure sugar than deal with the possible effects from Russell Stover Sugar Free Bites. I do not plan to purchase it, and although it would be better for a diabetic than regular candy, I would still not recommend it.

If Russell Stover reworked the formula to remove the sugar alcohol and remove the genetic engineering, I think this product would be a winner. However, until that happens, I cannot, and do not, recommend this product.

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